Count Time in a Federal Prison Camp

The words “Count Time” is a shout every inmate hears from the correctional officers during the day and evening. Inmates are generally counted four times throughout a 24 hour period.

The main count is taken at 4:00pm. When count time is called, every inmate reports to a designated spot on a line, usually there in a number painted on the floor that match your bed number. During this count an officer is coming by with a book that has everyone’s ID and number assigned to them by the BOP. Each inmate calls out his last name and number assigned when the officer comes by while another officer is taking a head count.

The evening count occurs at 9:00pm. When this count is called each inmate is to report to his bed area because some are already in bed. A quick head count is taken by two officers then inmates are quickly dismissed.

The other two counts are taken at 1:00am and 5:00am in the morning while everyone is sleeping.

On some occasions during a 9pm, 1am and 5am count when the numbers fail to match up for unknown reasons. The officers would yell “count time, every body on the line”. All inmates were to line up even those who were already sleeping had to get up (lots of grumbling).

Now there were times when the count was missing someone. At this point all inmates are ordered to stay in the dormitory or on the line till the missing person have been found. Only then were we dismissed to roam around outside again or to return to work details. The missing individual is then questioned for his actions.

Unscheduled count times occurred during foggy mornings where every body stayed in the dormitory area till a quick line count was taken then dismissed for work details when the fog lifted.

Another count was a surprise count every month while every inmate was on their work details. Each inmate was to report to their designated work location and counted by the officer supervising their work. Once the count was cleared, inmates went back to work.

Count time was also a time for no talking or the count would take longer. Some officers would actually go back to their office for a few minutes while inmates stayed in line and learned to be quiet. Some officers would single out the inmate who talked and discipline them by taking away some of their privileges. Inmates quickly learned to stop talking while count was taking place.

Count time is just a simple routine you have to get use to.


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